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'Tis the season

12/05/2019 11:45:14 AM


Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

Certain holidays and seasons have vocabulary that symbolizes them. Thanksgiving says it all in its title: a time to give thanks. I expanded this concept a bit more in a recent post, encouraging people to develop an attitude of gratitude.

The Christmas season is one where you will read and hear the following: Peace on earth, good will towards men. Other than the fact that this phrase omits women, which by itself needs correcting, I learned something very important from my good friend Pastor Eric Manning of Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC. He remarked during a panel discussion that he and I participated in last December at CNN in New York that he found it troubling that the above phrase is used only during Christmastime. It should be used all year long.

He's right. Have you noticed that people seem a bit friendlier, a bit politer, during this time of year? Why should this behavior only be during this time of year? We must strive to act this way every single day of the year. The same must hold true for an attitude of gratitude. We must be grateful every single day of the year. Notwithstanding the popular phrasing found in greeting cards, civil and respectful behavior should not be something that can be unwrapped from storage during a time of year, proudly displayed, and then gently re-wrapped and stored until the same time next year. If the values of an attitude of gratitude, and peace on earth, good will towards women resonate with you, they must do so every single day of the year.

A national day of giving is a wonderful idea, in that it helps not-for-profit organizations that do much good in our society find support when support is frequently difficult to find. The downside is there are so many worthwhile organizations out there, how does one choose? Do you write five dollar checks to fifty organizations? Is there some way to reframe the concept of a national day of giving so that every day can be a national day of giving?

Part of the answer must be our approach to life every single day. Every day must include an attitude of gratitude, peace on earth and good will towards all, and acts of charity, just to name a few. Demonstrating these to others on a daily basis reinforces the foundational belief that this is how all people must act if we are to achieve the potential for being the best that we can be. Every single one of us can impact others in ways that we will never know. Don’t wrap it away. Keep it out, use it every day, so that it shines brightly to remind others.

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